Best studio monitors for beginner

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by MAFbass1992, Nov 11, 2016.

  1. MAFbass1992


    Feb 4, 2012

    Since my crappy 2.1 logitech speakers broke I'm looking for new speakers and I'd like to get something more decent.

    First of all, I'm not that much of a ''studio'' guy so I don't know if I sould get reference monitors but it seems like it's the only thing available apart from consumer speakers. I currently have a basic setup consisting of a Scarlett 2i2 soundcard, and several bass preamps. What I mostly do is record bass tracks and practice with backing track. Should I just get normal speakers or reference monitors then? Of course having monitors would also motivate me to explore the world of recording, which I'd like.

    My choices would be:
    M-Audio Av40 or 42
    KRK Rokit (but they seem oriented for EDM music)
    Yamaha HS5, 7 or 8

    Any other suggestions?

    To these speakers can produce bass well even without subs? After all I just want some decent speakers to listen and play with tracks. So do having ''neutral'' reference monitors can do this well?

    Thank you!
    Alixinchains likes this.
  2. Remyd


    Apr 2, 2014
    St. Louis, MO
    Monitors are not "good speakers". Those are designed to sound as best as they possibly can to the listener. That means that there may be a trade off sacrificing accuracy for a good listening experience like EQ or expanders etc.

    Monitors are designed to produce sound as closely as possible to the recording. Don't know if you may have noticed, but things that you mix on your computer speakers don't sound the same in your car. If you can make something that sounds good on monitors it was sounds good all kinds of playback not just the one you mixed.

    Sub'd - I want to know the answer too.
    Badwater and Alixinchains like this.
  3. MAFbass1992


    Feb 4, 2012
    So I guess it can be a good thing or a bad thing to hear whatever you want to hear on good monitors.... or on standard consumer speakers I guess!
    Remyd likes this.
  4. Remyd


    Apr 2, 2014
    St. Louis, MO
    It's not easy - kind of like apples and persimmons. Consumer speakers are often designed with design trade-offs like low pass filters and shelving to make the speaker sound as good as it can given the price range and drivers etc. My very nice Sony home stereo would be very bad choice for mixing because it exaggerates the highs and the lows and set things out to the rear speakers that would not normally have done that. It also has a sub woofer that amplifies items on there about 80 hz but doesn't do anything for the stuff over the top. That all adds up to a built-in EQ that would be different from all the other built-in EQs of all the other speakers. Monitors don't have that sort of built-in EQ so you can start from a baseline sound.

    My monitors that just gave up the ghost actually kind of sounded bad, especially in the low range. The thing I like about them was sort of a detailed mid range so I could hear all the differences. When I tried to mix my last few tracks on headphones as soon as I got into the car the low bass frequencies were very loud - rattling the windows because I accidentally put a low boost EQ to compensate for the bad 'phones.

    If you want a kicking system, monitors are not the way to go. If you want to hear what's on the recording, monitors are the only way to go. As I and about a jillion other people have discovered, headphones are not good enough.
    Badwater likes this.
  5. I use KRK's 6's to monitor mixes etc. Not sure I would use them as a specific playback bass speaker though.

    Mine will handle very decent low end if required. I listen to YouTube tracks on them and they sound good (but I'm also using the onboard computer RealTek EQ).

    And yes.....never use phones for a final mixdown.
  6. ThudThudThud


    Jun 4, 2010
    I have M-Audio SP-5B monitors for tracking/mixing. They are near field, and very clean so they play back the tracks as recorded. I use them for preliminary mixes, and I even sue headphones for reference, but when coming to a final mix - and more importantly mastering - I make sure I A/B with some consumer good hi-fi speakers (with a subwoofer with properly dialed in crossover); plus I will take a USB thumb drive to my car.
    Mixing and mastering are two separate things.

    I'd suggest getting the largest cones you can afford with your monitors unless you have a good quality subwoofer.
    It's really easy to mix on small monitors, then rattle the house speakers with bass you thought was harnessed when you play on your hi-fi.
  7. DigitalMan

    DigitalMan Bring Back Edit/Delete Supporting Member

    Nov 30, 2011
    Bay Area, CA
    If you are recording then get monitors instead of consumer oriented speakers. It's just about that simple.
  8. If that is what you mostly do, just get what sounds good for you. As long as you don't mix complete tracks and have a complete and professional treated room, all this talk about "studio monitors" and "it's not about sounding good" is - sorry folks - nonsense.
    You write nothing about the size of your room and if it is treated and where the speakers stand and if you can play really loud there. So based on this info, noone can give you a decent answer. It's somehow funny that people reply to your question, not even asking about this fundamentals, but recommend "professional" (whatever that means) "monitor" speakers against consumer oriented speakers.
    If you're not recording for money, why don't you just simply get a small bass amp?
    I do pretty much what you are doing, but I can't listen very loud. I use small Adam 5" nearfield monitors along with a TecAmp Pleasure Board - much better than any Sub in my situation. But that is just me.
  9. Ulf_Hansson


    Apr 15, 2014
    I have listened to both M-audio and KRKs in different studios around here, different sizes and models but they all seemed to work well. But not that these studios all had several different monitors plus great reference headphones.
    I'd personally go for the KRK I think.
  10. Consider the Yorkville ones as well. I've had a pair of YSM-1's in my studio for over 15yrs and they still sound great. There's a pair on kijiji out your way right now for $120.00.
  11. foudufafa

    foudufafa Supporting Member

    Aug 28, 2013
    Boston, MA
    Take a look at JBL. I have the L308 in my home studio and they sound fantastic.
  12. BassCarolina


    Sep 19, 2016
    Columbia SC
    The JBL LSR308s are a steal at $150 a piece.
    mdjuszyn likes this.
  13. pbass2


    Jan 25, 2007
    Los Angeles
    There's so many affordable options for studio monitors out there these days it's incredible. I say get monitors, because my hunch is you're gonna start getting into recording/producing/mixing sooner or later - I mean, in this day and age, why would any musician NOT explore it? It's SO affordable now. And, it empowers you, making you more self-sufficient if you have even basic DAW skills. M-Audio, KRK, JBL, et al--all have excellent options in different price ranges. Just get ones with big enough drivers to get you sufficient low end--if not, then you'll need to add a sub at some point.
    I personally think the KRK Rokit series are great speakers for the money. And they're in no way "EDM specific"--maybe you got that impression from some marketing. Sure, there are products out there with unnatural hyped low end or what-have-you that are marketed towards dance or hiphop music listeners, but anything intended to be a studio monitor is designed to be as accurate as possible--different manufacturers achieve different results, but they're going for the same thing. For example, it cracks me up how Beats headphones advertise that they're good for mixing in the studio. They're not--they're overpriced consumer-grade headphones with a very hyped EQ curve--the LAST thing you'd want to mix with! It'd be like trying to mix in your car.
    Anyhow, without knowing anything about your room, etc. I just wouldn't go any smaller than the 6" woofer version of the KRKs, unless you add a sub.
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2016
  14. chaak


    Apr 25, 2013
    now here
    IK Multimedia iLoud Micro Monitors
    seamonkey likes this.
  15. MAFbass1992


    Feb 4, 2012
    Thank you Everyone for the feedback! To give you more details, my practice room is in my basement in a pretty opened area but I'm in a corner which is about 10x10. Here are some pictures! That's the setup for now I guess :)

    And from what I understand, I can always put an eq on my computer if I want to ''voice'' my monitors differently and have them to sound less ''neutral'' I guess?

    I'm starting to think I'd be done ''gear-wise'' for the bass but here goes something else ! :bassist:

    Attached Files:

  16. JBL LSR305 @ ~$300 pair, or JBL LSR308 @ ~$400pair. Self-powered. Great for mixing, mastering, just listening.
    mdjuszyn likes this.
  17. rudy4444


    Mar 13, 2012
    Central Illinois
    With a small area I'd select "small" monitors and a sub for the recording end. I had larger Event 20/20s and down-sized to Presonus Eris 5 monitors. I love them, but they wouldn't be my choice for "playing along with".

    IMHO that's a whole separate issue. Most of us have settled into basses and amplification rig that pleases us, and it looks like you have your preferences in that respect. If it were me I'd purchase a inexpensive small mixer to combine my playback with my bass and route that to my bass rig. It can be as loud as you want and provide a satisfying practice situation. The mixer could accept your computer playback tracks, mp3 player, stand-alone recorder, and your bass.

    It's something to think about.
    MAFbass1992 likes this.
  18. I had a pair of Rokkit KRK's which stopped working after 3 years - I went to get them repaired and apparently the guy had seen them before - they use a black glue which can melt and mess with the circuitry he says. He quoted the repair at an amount which seemed crazy to me, I might as well have bought new ones. They were great while they lasted though.
    This is in Australia btw, where all musical products and repairs are twice the price of the rest of the world.
  19. TheEmptyCell

    TheEmptyCell Bearded Dingwall Enthusiast Supporting Member

    Jul 16, 2005
    Los Angeles, CA
    The studios on campus here use the higher model LSR's, and they are incredible.
  20. monkeyfinger

    monkeyfinger Moderator Staff Member

    There are three uses for monitors: tracking, mixing and mastering. Mastering is sort of a esoteric process and usually requires very specialized systems and rooms that are usually not available in typical project studios. So let's focus on tracking and mixing. When tracking, the best monitors are the ones that are most revealing. The purpose is provide as much detail about the performance as possible. These are, in effect, meant to be unflattering. (Many bass amps conceal a good deal of detail, so don't be surprised if you discover your playing is not quite as good as you thought.) When mixing with monitors, the goal is to have a mix that works well on a wide variety of play-back systems. (The mastering process fine-tunes this, but a majority of this is in the mixing stage.) So when you are mixing, you are trying to determine what mix is going to sound good on a home stereo, a car stereo, high-end headphones and cheap earbuds. This means you are not mixing to sound good in the monitors, you are mixing to sound good on these other playback devices. Sometimes the monitor mix may not sound right to get it right elsewhere. Example: I have a pair of Adam A7s. Some professional recordings I've played back through my monitors sounds weird in these monitors, but sound great over normal speakers. Good mixing monitors will provide a very detailed stereo field when properly set up. (Meaning you can really hear the panning effect in the mix.) And they provide good instrument separation. This is important to getting each instrument to 'sit in the mix' properly.

    Here are some additional thoughts:
    1. How loud to you want the mixing environment to be? Generally, moderate levels for tracking and initial mixing, (~85 dB spl), louder levels for finalizing the mix, (maybe 6-10 db louder). When evaluating monitors check for both scenarios.
    2. How well do the monitors handle raw audio? Most final recordings you listen to are compressed. So the dynamic range is not typically more than 20dB. When you are recording very dynamic instruments, it is easy to overload speakers. So if you don't want to limit the dynamic range in the analog input stage, you need to consider the headroom of the monitors.
    3. How much time and money do you want to put into treating the room? Unless you are willing to treat the room, it will be very hard to achieve good mixes. (Not impossible, just difficult.)
    4. How many playback devices do you have to test your mix? Many studios will have two or three monitoring systems so they can compare playback. One studio I recorded in had an old boom-box hanging around. The engineers considered it the gold standard for mixing because it the mix worked there, it worked everywhere. (And they had some very high-end monitoring systems too.)
    5. How familiar are you with the monitors and room you are using? As you get used to mixing with your monitors in your mixing room, you will get better a creating a good mix because you understand the quirks and nuances of your monitoring system.
    6. Do you want separate monitors for tracking vs mixing? Yamaha NS10s have been the gold standard for studio tracking for a long time. They reveal *EVERYTHING*, but they are downright unpleasant to mix on.

    A good mixing trick: create a stereo track for a reference mix. Pick a pre-recorded song that has a mix close to your production goals and put it in the reference track. When mixing, compare your mix to the reference mix.
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